I was in my early thirties when my parents made a startling statement. Out of the blue, mom and dad said, "We were saved." Saved? They explained that they had, "accepted Jesus and were baptized" in the lake at Pilgrim Village. The year was 1984.
You may be asking yourself, "Baptized at Pilgrim Village? Is that some holy, historic place?" Actually no. No, it had nothing at all to do with John Bunyan or Bedford, England. In fact, if you were to mention the name "John Bunyan" to my mom and dad in 1984, they would have said, "You mean Paul Bunyan, don't you? Paul Bunyan and his Blue Ox, Babe?"
No, Pilgrim Village was a housing development like many other housing developments in small towns in Ohio in 1984 with names like Somerset Estates, Devonshire Woods and Peppermill Place. In 1984, Pilgrim Village happened to be one of the housing developments in Bainbridge, Ohio that had a small lake in the middle of it, so that's where my parents were baptized. The years passed by. Nothing more was said. Neither my mother nor my father ever spoke to me about the Bible, about The LORD or about what it means to "be saved". Then, on Thanksgiving Day in 1990, I was born again.
Fast forward to the year 2005. A deep, irreconcilable gulf between my dad and myself had separated us completely for years since I received the gift of faith. I tried to reason with my dad about the great miracle of the Gospel, that the LORD Jesus Christ saves His people from their sins completely apart from anything they do to earn salvation for themselves. He agreed on many points of truth, that the LORD Himself saves by His power and through His Word. But because I had never "accepted Jesus", according to my dad's religion, I could not possibly be saved. He said, Jesus died for everybody, but only those who "accept" Him can be saved.
My testimony was completely opposite. I told dad that the LORD saved me and the proof of His regenerating power in me was beyond dispute. "Salvation belongeth unto the LORD", I would tell my dad. "Thy blessing is upon Thy people". Psalm 3:8 The division between us grew into a chasm so huge, that finally, dad refused to speak to me. You see, to my dad, salvation was completely a matter of something YOU do. Since I hadn't done anything to earn it, it wasn't fair that I should have it.
The sticking point, the issue that enraged my father most, was the truth that Jesus died for "His people". It made no sense to my dad. He was angry. It infuriated him to think that God would save some and not others. He was convinced that God favored those who accepted the premise that they should do their part. Jesus paid for everybody's sins and the smart, good people would realize this and reap the benefits by "accepting" Jesus. Sadly, he was surrounded by wolves on every side, false teachers, who congratulated him in holding onto his free-will religion. He had a god who followed the whims of man, and dad really liked being in control.
Although I couldn't talk to my dad, I never stopped praying for him. I asked the LORD to enable me to write a song that would tell the Gospel in music. In July of 2005, I wrote, "Jesus Said Come Unto Me", and sent it to my father in the mail as a gift. He died in September, just a few weeks later. When I visited the empty house after his funeral, I saw the opened envelope lying there on the kitchen table.
My father is gone now and I cannot pray for him anymore. Should I feel guilt that I didn't do more to make sure he was corrected in his faulty thinking? Should I have pressed him hard until I won the argument? Should I have forced him to become a "Calvinist"?
No! No! No! We cannot and do not save anyone! Christ alone is the Saviour! We who know Him tell the wonderful truth and we leave the rest to Him. I do not know where my father is today, but someday I will see it all completely and the sight of whatever has happened will be glorious.
You may be thinking, "I've always heard that we must accept Jesus. What's wrong with that?" Hear me please! God Himself is the One Who decides who will be saved. He reveals sin. This is the first blessing to God's chosen people. They see hell open wide and know damnation is their just reward. They become weary, overwhelmed, and hopeless. They know they cannot save themselves. They see Christ as the Lamb slain in MY place and they joyfully run to Him. They will eschew the fake jesus who "loves everybody", for he is an idol worshipped by those who lie and love lies.
"Jesus - Friend of Sinners" Henry Mahan http://www.sermonaudio.com/...
"A Sinful Man" Todd Nibert http://www.sermonaudio.com/...
"Traditions of The Fathers" Angus Fisher http://www.sermonaudio.com/...
Hymn illustrations from John Bunyan's "The Pilgrim's Progress"
The Bunyan Press ISBN 0-9510035-1-8
Music Notation is FREE! http://media.sermonaudio.co...